Saturday, March 6, 2021

Back to square one?

Just to return to the subject of a previous post, you may have seen in The National that Mike Russell has denied that the leaked drafts of the SNP manifesto are genuine, whereas Wings has insisted that they are and that his source is impeccable. It's possible that both could be telling the truth as far as they know it - the text seemed too good to be true in some ways, and was written without the tentativeness and excessive caution that is normally associated with the current SNP leadership's approach to securing an independence referendum, so I'm wondering if it was someone else's suggested wording and the Wings source mistook it for a leadership text. In a strange way it doesn't really matter who is telling the truth, though - now that Mike Russell has issued a denial, the eventual manifesto will have to be made different to 'prove' that the leak was fake, and there's a danger that the good things in the draft will be lost. I'm a tad troubled by the mood music emanating from the SNP on social media - early indications suggest they'll be fighting a presidential campaign, inviting voters to show their appreciation for Nicola Sturgeon's handling of the pandemic by giving her another term of office. I can see why that would have seemed seductive as a strategic option and in a narrow sense it may even work, but we should really be entering the independence endgame in this campaign, and a pitch of "back Nicola as the best leader of a devolved Scotland" won't give any confidence that the leadership have got that memo. There's also a danger that independence supporters may not feel they have enough incentive to turn out to vote - in other words we could repeat the mistakes of the 2017 Westminster general election. 

The other significance of the presidential tone is that it strongly suggests that the leadership and associated strategists are confident that Nicola Sturgeon will remain in office even if she's found to have broken the ministerial code. And whatever anyone thinks of her, that's probably just as well, because this is a crucial election for the independence cause and a leadership vacancy a few weeks before polling day could be catastrophic. My theory is that John Swinney would take over on an interim basis as a 'safe pair of hands', because I suspect there would be a feeling that the more adventurous options like Kate Forbes or Humza Yousaf would have to wait until everyone has a chance to draw breath and think the whole thing through. But Mr Swinney has led the SNP into elections before, and the results were underwhelming to say the least. 

Meanwhile there's a suggestion that the new Labour leader Anas Sarwar may take on Ms Sturgeon in the Glasgow Southside constituency ballot. Wings is talking up the possibility that he might beat her and that she might lose her seat altogether, due to her only being placed second on the list as a result of the unhealthily secretive 'reserved places' scheme. Spoiler alert: Nicola Sturgeon is not going to lose Glasgow Southside. If anything she's more popular than she was five years ago, and she has an enormous cushion that will see her home even if Mr Sarwar gets a bit of momentum going and starts attracting Tory tactical votes. The main thing his candidacy would say to me is that Labour accept they have no chance of winning any constituency seats in Glasgow at all, and that instead of trying to get him elected as a constituency MSP, they're going for a publicity stunt.


  1. I suppose a presidential campaign is likely to get a good result. It capitalises on Sturgeon as a personality cult and for the rest of us, well we are coerced into voting that way for a lack of alternative. But it is a strategy which carries a price, because anyone coerced ain't going to be happy.

    And when Sturgeon's wheels fall off, as Blair's did, the personality vote will turn ...

  2. Willie Rennie has no chance. I may be a disillusioned SNP voter but there is zero chance of me voting for his party or any British party. I want a better SNP or a new Independence Party to vote for.

  3. So no party conference this spring... a rally..... sigh, Nicola appears to fancy herself as Eva Peron.

    1. that thought had flickered through my mind too.

  4. There are a lot of things I wanted to say but I am so horrified by the prospect of Humza Yousaf as leader of the SNP, and thus potentially First Minister, my mind has gone completely blank

    This man wants to criminalise women's rights - basically remove them. Why do you think he would be an "adventurous option" ?

    Kate Forbes I get, although I think she needs more experience than she has at present - a rising star I agree, and an FM for the future.

    But Humza Yousaf ? God forbid, things are bad just now but that would be adding petrol to an already smouldering bin fire

  5. Can Swinney really take over in a situation where Sturgeon needs to resign. He has been such a staunch defenders of Sturgeon (defaming Salmond in the process) and more significantly he’s been a key benchman hiding evidence and documents for months. If a sturgeon goes doesn’t he need to go as well? Or if not go, doesn’t it at least rule him out as leader, even of a caretaker variety?

    1. Technically, wouldn't it be Keith Brown as party leader that would be in charge during an election, since it's a party thing. I'm not convinced that it would be realistic to remove Swinney as acting FM until the election, because he'd lack any authority and he likely wouldn't be FM for long after the election. I suspect even if Sturgeon has to resign, she'll ride it out and let the public judge her. If she's re-elected and has a majority, the results of the inquiries would be hard to press any more for the Opposition.

  6. Wings over Scotland Post mostly ANTI-SNP stuff currently so I'd wonder if this manifesto stuff is genuine.
    Anyway I'd be surprised if the SNP wasn't holding back on finalising their election manifesto to see what might develope.
    If the shenanagins in the UK Tory party blow up in their faces as many predict then the Scottish Tories are going to see their election strategy for May blow up in their faces.
    Wings BTW are spinning the 10,000 new SNP members as some kind of a "not so good news" story.
    Bizzare, IMO Good news is good news. No? Not for some.

    1. The SNP may have given out to someone known to pass things to Bath bogus information to see where it ends up. The British Government did that during WW2 to known agents.

    2. Ramstam - how many members do the SNP have now?

  7. If Sarwar has a serious plan and the inquiries don't come out well for the FM, I wouldn't bet against him making things difficult for her. Who doesn't love a story about the people left behind by Sturgeon's government right there in her back yard? It turns that presidential campaign into a constituency scrap. Labour can focus a shit ton of national spending in that constituency because it's also leader vs. leader. I also wouldn't bet against Wings' suggestion that the Tories and Lib Dems might actually step aside.

    1. Aye Kenny, And you're an independence man are ye?
      Aye right. I see you post this shite over on Wings.
      Birds of a feather and all that.
      To think people worry about Russian interference in elections when we have stirrers like you on here.
      I notice you lot are saying Nicola Sturgeon has to go BEFORE the May election.

  8. Willie Rennie has ditched the old time religion of Liberal Democracy and embraced ANTI-SNP-ism like the other two London rule parties, yet he'll demand the SG deliver outcomes not possible without the full powers of independence.
    We know they'd put the Tories into power in a heartbeat.
    The ghost of Nick Clegg haunts them to this day and Jo whatsername still has a score to settle with the Scots.

  9. Poll out in tomorrow's papers - YES - 48%: No 52% (with DKs removed).
    Anyone surprised?

  10. Ballot Box Scotland
    New Independence poll, ComRes 4 - 5 Mar (changes vs 18 - 22 Feb):

    No ~ 46% (+2)
    Yes ~ 43% (-5)
    Don't Know ~ 10% (+2)

    Excluding DKs

    No ~ 52% (+5)
    Yes ~ 48% (-5)

  11. Lots of caveats on that Savanta Comres poll.
    Not weighted for voter turnout, leading questions and seemingly cannot be compared to other Indy polls.